A Clear Vision For Your Career – Do You Have One?

Many of us wander through life without any sort of vision about where we’re heading. It can be likened to hopping in your car and just driving around without any idea of where you want to go. Whilst this can be a nice way to while away a few hours on a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon, especially if your aimless driving happens to take you past a few cellar doors or nice places to soak in the atmosphere, it’s not an ideal way to spend your life in general. 

Life, particularly with respect to a career, is similar. Having a career vision is akin to having a specific destination when you hop in your car and start driving. It’s about not sitting back and passively allowing the vagaries of fate to take you where they will and push you through life. If you do allow that to happen don’t complain when you end up someplace you don’t want to be! 

What is a career vision?

A career vision is a ‘big picture’ view of your future as it relates to your career. It includes aspirations like:

  • The major achievements you intend to accomplish throughout your career
  • The rung of the corporate ladder you want to reach
  • What impacts you hope to make on your employers, the industry, or your fellow employees

These aspirations should also be able to inspire and motivate you to move towards them, regardless of how distant they may seem right at the moment. In fact, if you’re not inspired to achieve them they probably won’t happen!

Taking that first step and starting the momentum

The first step towards your vision comes when you put it into words, preferably on paper. This is where a vague notion moves from being a series of electrical signals jumping backward and forwards between neurons in your brain to something more tangible. Thoughts are easily forgotten but if you’ve made a point of writing those thoughts down and saving them someplace you can see them on a regular basis, they become something to strive towards. Something that opens your eyes to the possibilities that await you and provide you with a tangible goal.

Personal mission or career statement and career vision statement – how are they different?

A career statement focuses on who you are and where you are in the present. A career vision statement is about formulating a mental image of you in the future. It encompasses where you want to be at the pinnacle of your career. It may not be in the same industry, with the same employer, or even the same profession. It could be a vision about what you really want to do with your life. That could be working from home as a consultant mining engineer with all the tools you need to do your job right at your fingertips. In today’s increasingly technology-powered world that’s becoming a very attainable goal. Whatever it is, your vision must inspire, energise, motivate and provide you with a clear direction in which to head.

Creating your mission and career vision statements

When creating these documents, start with the one that defines the ‘you’ of today. That will help you better define the ‘you’ you want to become at some point in the future. Then all that’s left is building the ladder or bridge that gets you from the ‘you’ you are today to the ‘you’ of the future. 

Just how does one go about creating a vision statement for their career?  We’ve distilled the process into a set of easily followable, achievable steps to assist you so read on….

First of all, career visioning isn’t something that can be rushed. It is after all your future we’re talking about! It could also take several false starts before a clear vision begins to emerge from the clutter that may be your current life and career. So make sure you set aside, or find, a goodly amount of time to give your future career the attention it deserves.

Study your mission statement. Think about the core values that underpin your life and career. Involving these at this stage in the process helps you better understand the ‘you’ of today. Are you passionate about improving the image of mining, about ensuring today’s mining activities don’t leave a destructive footprint on the environment, about improving health and safety on mine sites…. Etcetera.

Switch off the rational, logical, analytical part of your brain that is prone to grounding you in reality. Filter out the unconstructive vibes. Shut down the negative Nellie that likes to constantly remind you of you all the reasons why you shouldn’t / can’t / won’t do something. Stop thinking vision killer thoughts like having too narrow a focus, about being ridiculed, about the departure from tradition, about the short-term, etc. Let yourself think big instead.

Unlock yourself from where you are today and allow yourself to think about what you’d like to do if all your stars align themselves in the right way.

Give these visioning exercises a go and see if you can’t get your creative side working overtime.

  • What’s your definition of career success? How does that translate to where you are in your current position? Would you consider you’re successful doing what you’re currently doing based on that definition? What would it take, job wise, to help you achieve total success from a career perspective?
  • Imagine that you’ve paid off all your bills, including the mortgage. You have a reasonably unlimited cash reserve that will comfortably sustain you for some time. What would you choose to do today?
  • Imagine a world without obstacles, particularly your world. Nothing standing in between you and what you would like to achieve with your career. What would you like to do with it if that were the case?
  • Imagine what your career would be like if you possessed the power to turn it into anything you want.
  • Think about something you most love doing. Do you do it as part of your career? If you don’t, how can you incorporate it into your career?
  • Think about the people you admire the most. Why do you admire them? What attributes do they possess? Do they have something, or are they doing something, that you’d like to have, or do?
  • Think about a point in your future where you’ve achieved all the career success you want for yourself. What will you have accomplished? How will that success, those accomplishments, have impacted your life? What will your life look like after attaining them?
  • Imagine people reading your obituary in the local newspaper. What sort of person do you want them to be reading about? What do you want that notice to tell them about your career accomplishments, about the impact you made on those you worked with?
  • Do you believe you were put on this earth to achieve something special? Perhaps you have a gift or a calling. What are some of the ways in which you can effectively satisfy this calling, or share your gift so that you too are fulfilled?
  • What attributes do you have that make you stand out in your current job? Can you use those to help you achieve a more desirable future?
  • Where do you envisage your career being in 5 years time? A decade’s time? Fifteen years time? Is that where you want it to be?
  • If you were to write a story about your ideal life / career what would it say? Imagine the possibilities, and then see if you can’t write a story about it.

By now you should have some pretty clear ideas about where you’d like to be in your life, what you’d like to be doing, when you hit retirement age. Write it down. Keep it concise – a single sentence, or a short, succinct paragraph that sets out your career vision. Then consider adding a short vision statement and a brief description of how you envisage achieving it.

In conclusion

Think of your career vision statement as a type of GPS. Instead of hopping in your car and seeing where those wheels will take you, you now have a destination in mind. Plug it into the GPS, and begin to follow the road map that takes you where you want to go. In true GPS fashion, there will be the odd strange detour or it will take you the long way round, but ultimately it will get you to your destination.

Once you’ve created it, turn your career vision into a poster that you can print out and put up everywhere it will attract your attention. Look at it often, and read it out loud. Constantly imagine yourself having achieved your career vision. Think about what you could be doing instead of what you’re doing now. This is a proven technique for reinforcing things both consciously and subconsciously. Most very successful people do it or have done it to help get where they are today. It helps prompt you into setting the goals you need to reach along the way and take the steps you need to start taking to reach those goals.

Also, remember that your vision could well change as you progress towards it. In fact, it almost certainly will. Therefore, at least once a year when you review your career you should also make the time to review your career vision statement and adjust it as required.